Avesh, Saurabh help Central secure vital lead; North is in charge after Sindhu, Harshit ton

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Avesh, Saurabh lead for Central

Central Zone 64 for 0 (Vivek 34*, Mantri 25*) and 182 lead East Zone 122 (Parag 33, Avesh 3-34, Saurabh 3-46) with 124 runs

Fast bowler Avesh Khan and left arm spinner Saurabh Kumar struck back against East Zone by helping to secure a handy 60-run lead in the first innings for Central Zone. With Central limited to 182 on the first day, the two bowlers took three wickets each to bowl east for 122 on day two at Alur.

After Avesh had already struck twice the night before, Saurabh gave Central their first wicket on the second morning. He trapped Sudip Kumar Gharami for 27 in the 20th over of the innings for 27 before night watchman Shahbaz had Nadeem bowl six overs later. In between, Yash Thakur had left the experienced Anustup Majumdar behind cheaply. What was 42 for 2 at one stage quickly became 76 for 7 as Avesh Shahbaz bowled Ahmed for 3.

Riyan Parag and Manisankar Munasingh then entertained themselves in a fast 40-run partnership, the only time East seemed to be in control. But center captain Shivam Mavi had caught Parag for 33, an innings with five fours and a six, before also getting Akash Deep as he finished with two wickets.

With a crucial lead, Central’s openers Vivek Singh and Himanshu Mantri added an unbroken 64 before rain brought an early end to the day’s play. Both looked solid en route to 34* and 25* respectively as Central finished the day 124 ahead with all ten wickets remaining.

Sindhu, Harshit dominate Northeast

Northeastern zone 65 for 3 (Lamichaney 35*, Keishangbam 1*, Kaul 1-3) course Northern zone 540 for 8 Dec (Sindhu 150, Harshit 122*, Singha 2-74) with 475 runs

North Zone’s Nishant Sindhu hit 150 while No. 9 Harshit Rana cracked an unbeaten 122 off just 86 balls to bolster their side’s strong position against the North East Zone. Their heroics led North to 540 before declaring them eight wickets down.

North had started with Sindhu and Pulkit Narang resuming their nightly seventh wicket partnership, which ended on 130 as Narang fell for 46. Sindhu and Harshit then came together and added another 104 with almost a run-a-ball. Sindhu achieved his highest first-class score of 150, as the two North batters punished the bowlers to keep piling up runs at will.

Harshit remained aggressive even after Sindhu left. He hit 12 fours and nine sixes during his innings, which was his first first-class hundred. Harshit formed an unbeaten union of 64 for the ninth wicket with Siddharth Kaul coming on over six runs and over.

But in the end there was some relief for the North East bowlers and fielders as North declared their innings after 136 overs. With a mountain of a score ahead, the North East openers got off to a tentative start, before Kaul cleared Kishan Lyngdoh in the fourth over. Next it was Baltej Singh’s turn to strike as he removed Joseph Lalthankhuma for 4.

From 10 for 2, Nilesh Lamichaney and captain Rongsen added Jonathan 47 for the third wicket to make a brief recovery, but Harshit then hit back with the ball to leave Jonathan lbw late in the day. Northeast ended the day 475 behind North’s total.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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